Press enter after choosing selection

Results Of Modern Warfare

Results Of Modern Warfare image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

The common belief, oue apparently founded in rcason, is that eaoh notable improvement in warlike -weapons involves a corresponding increase in tiie slaughter and horrors of war, and so - or, at least, this is the theory of a certain school of philosophers - tends to the ultimate abolition of war itself . Tho contrary is maintained with much ingenuity by a recent essayist in England, himself a military man, who oontends tliat while the ohief feature in the military history of the past twenty years - say, sinco the Orimean war - has been the vast improvement, both in small arms and trtillery - in lirearms - the proportion of killed and wounded to combatants has been lessened as compared with the reaults obtained from the old-fashioned weapon. That the firelock or old Brown Bess should have been more doadly than the Snider-Enfleld, Martini-Henry, Springfield.Chassepot or needle-guu, and the clumsy old smooth-bore cannon than the rifled Krupp or Armstrong field-gun, seems an absurdity ; nevertheless the facts are these. Taking the great battles of modern European history anterior to the Franco-Austrian oampaign of 1859, we find that at Talavera, 1809, oneeighth of the combatants engaged were killed and wounded ; at Austerlitz, 1805, oae-seventh ; at Malplauet, 1709, Praguo, 1759, and Jena, 1800, one-sixth; at Friedland, 1807, and Waterloo, 1815, one-flf th ; at Marengo, 1800, one-foiu-th ; at Borodino, 1812, nearly ono-third, 80,000 of 250,000 combatants falling ; at Salamanca, 1812, and Leipsic, 1813, onethird, tho estímate of the latter battle including onlv tho French ; at Eylan, 1807, of a total effective of 160,000, there feil or were wounded 55,000, or more than a third, while at Zorndorf, 1758, the most murderous of modem battles, 32,000 of the 82,000 Russians and Pmseians engaged were stretched on the field at the close of the day, or twofifths. At Solferino, the first great battle in which rifled firearms were employed, the loss feil to one-eleventh, that is to eay, was oae-quarter less than at Tala vera, the least bloody of the earlier battlos recorded above, while as compared with Zorndorf less than one-fourth oPfhe percentage of killed and wounded was maintained. At Konniggratz, where the breech-loader came into play, the loss was barely one-fifteenth of the fórce engaged. During the war of 1870 the loss at Worth was one-eleventh and at Sedan one-tenth, while at Gravellotte, which was properly beiieved to be one of the most tenaciously fought and bloody battles of modern times, it was but onetenth. It raust be remarked that in this campaign the mitrailleuse came into play, and that the part borne by the Germán field artillery was such as almost to amount to a revolution in field tactics. The same proportion of decreased casualties from improved w.ipons is preserved in earlier history. Zorndorf was but a skirmish to Cressy, where the Erench lost in killed alone 30,000 men, 1,300 knights aud 11 princes. Oa the fatal field of Cannse 50,000 of 80,000 Romans were slain, and in the same campaign, at the battle of the Motaurus, a Carthaginian army hastening to the reinforcement of Hannibal, was literally destroyed. The reasons for this apparent paradox are, after all, simple. In the carly daye of Roman or Grecian warf are, whore the weapons were the pilum or spear, heavy hand-to-hand fightiug was the absolute rule, followed by a massacre when onc side or the other gave way and fled. In the middle ages fighting was well nigl ; as close and the pursuit quite as bloody, ■while the undefended archers or spear' j men feil easily before the knights oi men-at arms. When firearms wero in troduced, and fighting was carried oi from a distance, and the end of the battie was usually the capture and loss of a commanding position, the porportion of loss was immensely dirninished. Then, too, each successive improvement made in weapons has boen met by corresponding alterations in tacties to obviate its results. ïho day of massive columns or deep formations to be mown down by fire reserved, as at Bunker Hill, New Orleans or Fontenoy, till the men " can see the white of the enemy'seyes," has gone by, and troops now engage at longer distances, in much looser order, and, above all, make more use of cover.


Old News
Michigan Argus